Giving the gift of life: Pender Co. foster brothers displaced after hurricane prepare to go under the knife

Giving the gift of life: Pender Co. foster brothers prepare to go under the knife

PENDER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - In 48 hours, a pair of foster brothers will go under the knife and while they may not be related by blood, they will soon be united by possibly an even stronger bond.

“I feel happy about it," 19-year-old Marshall Phillips said. "I am a bit nervous because this is my first major procedure.”

Phillips will give his foster brother, 23-year-old Kamali Hayes, one of his kidneys. The process has been more a year in the making.

“I feel happy he decided to do it because not a lot of people want to give a kidney or even volunteer to give a kidney," Hayes said. "Marshall didn’t bat an eye.”

WECT first met the brothers and their foster mother, Pender County Department of Social Services worker Sheila Hayes, in November 2018. Their home off Shaw Highway in Pender County was completely destroyed after Hurricane Florence blew through.

In October, Phillips found out his blood type matched Kamali’s, and Phillips made the decision to donate one of his kidneys to his foster brother.

Kamali was adopted by Sheila at 14, and when he was 18, she found out he had chronic kidney failure, adding more stress to a family that lost almost everything in the storm.

“It’s been a journey," Sheila said. "We are anxious and nervous at the same time. We are getting through but they are very strong guys.”

The pair will head to Greenville, N.C., on Thursday. Both surgeries will take 4-5 hours and their recovery could last more than eight weeks.

They’ll have to do rehab out of their home as it’s still not in a livable condition.

“It’s been a little overwhelming with the hurricane coming in and my health problems," Kamali said. "It’s just been very hectic but we have managed to push through.”

His foster brother says he doesn’t feel Kamali’s stress, just pure happiness the bond of brotherhood will soon be even stronger.

“He has done so much for me," Phillips said. "It’s not stressful. It’s an honor.”

The brothers and their mother will recover with family in Pender County. Their home, the first STEP home in Pender County, should be complete by late spring.

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